Effect of 1-year, low-dose DHEA therapy on climacteric symptoms and female sexuality

Climacteric. 2011 Dec;14(6):661-8. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2011.579649. Epub 2011 Sep 26.


Background: Sexual desire is affected by endocrine and psychosocial factors. Menopausal hormonal changes are relevant to the causes of sexual dysfunction during reproductive aging.

Aim: To evaluate the effects of different types of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) on sexual function, frequency of sexual intercourse, and quality of relationship in early postmenopausal women. We recruited 48 healthy postmenopausal women aged 50-60 years (mean age 54.5 ± 3.3 years). Women with climacteric symptoms were uniformly randomized into three groups receiving either dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA 10 mg) daily, or daily oral estradiol (1 mg) plus dihydrogesterone (5 mg), or daily oral tibolone (2.5 mg) for 12 months. Women who refused hormonal therapy were treated with oral vitamin D (400 IU). Efficacy was evaluated using the McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire before treatment and after 12 months. We evaluated the hormonal profile before treatment and after 3, 6 and 12 months.

Results: The groups receiving DHEA or HRT reported a significant improvement in sexual function compared to baseline (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively) using the McCoy total score. The quality of relationship was similar at baseline and after 3, 6 and 12 months of treatment. There were significant increases in the numbers of episodes of sexual intercourse in the previous 4 weeks in women treated with DHEA, HRT and tibolone in comparison with the baseline value (p < 0.01, p < 0.05, p < 0.01, respectively). No changes in the McCoy score occurred in women receiving vitamin D.

Conclusions: Daily oral DHEA therapy at the dose of 10 mg, HRT and tibolone all provided a significant improvement in comparison with vitamin D in sexual function and in frequency of sexual intercourse in early postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climacteric / drug effects*
  • Climacteric / physiology
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Dydrogesterone / administration & dosage
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Norpregnenes / administration & dosage*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Sexuality / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Norpregnenes
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Dydrogesterone
  • tibolone